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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023

Map from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park

PART OF CHAIN OF CRATERS ROAD HAS CLOSED DUE TO MORE SEISMIC UNREST in the upper East Rift Zone near Puhimaau Crater. Kīlauea is not erupting. It's an earthquakes spike that prompted closure of Chain of Craters Road at the intersection near the Devastation Trail parking lot and nearby areas.
   Kīlauea summit remains open between Uēkahuna and Puʻupuaʻi, including the Nāhuku lava tube, but Devastation Trail and parking area and the Keanakākoʻi Crater side of Kīlauea caldera are temporarily closed. 
     U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is closely monitoring the seismic increase and change in activity on Kīlauea volcano. According to USGS, "unrest may continue to wax and wane with changes to the input of magma into the area and eruptive activity could occur in the near future with little or no warning."
USGS satellite seismicity graphic showing dots on a map that indicate Tuesday's spike in
 the number of earthquakes. USGS image
   USGS summarized the activity in an alert this morning and reports that no unusual activity has been noted along the middle and lower sections of the East Rift Zone.
    "Decisions to temporarily close areas of the park are never easy but are made as a precaution. Kīlauea volcano is very restless right now, and safety is our utmost priority. When USGS notifies us of significant changes, we will re-evaluate area closures," said Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh.
    Due to unrest in the area south-southwest of Kīlauea caldera, Mauna Iki Trail and a section of Kaʻū Desert Trail have been closed since October past the Footprints exhibit to the Mauna Iki Trail intersection. The Footprints exhibit remains open and accessible from Highway 11.
    Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park has two active volcanoes within its boundaries. A year ago, the park closed the summit of Mauna Loa weeks ahead of its historic summit eruption in November 2023. As a result, no one was evacuated and no search and rescue missions were necessary.
Park visitors are urged to plan ahead and check the park website for any closure or hazard alerts at www.nps.gov/hawaiivolcanoes.

A presentation on woodworking was canceled at After Dark in the Park
on Tuesday due to COVID concerns. Photo from HVNP
CANCELLATION OF FILMS AT KĪLAUEA VISITOR CENTER AUDITORIUM AND TUESDAY'S AFTER DARK IN THE PARK was prompted by a “COVID-19 High Hospitalization Admission Level on the island of Hawaiʻi,” according to a notice on Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park's web and social media sites:
  "If you plan to visit the park, please wear a high-quality, well-fitting mask before entering the visitor center and other park buildings. If you have any of the CDC-recognized symptoms of COVID-19, please reschedule visit when you are well. Mahalo for your cooperation and understanding. Stay well this holiday season! " says the Park notice.
    A presentation on woodworking at After Dark in the Park has been postponed due to COVID concerns.
    The films are a regular presentation to orient and educate visitors to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park and are being postponed due to COVID until further notice.

ALL WASTE FACILITIES, INCLUDING TRANSFER STATIONS, landfill and organic facilities will be closed on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. County Department of Environmental Management reports it is also closing the Hilo Scale House, East Hawai‘i Organics Facility and Hilo Reload Facility at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday. This early closure is necessary to allow fumigation of the Hilo Scale House. Due to the early closure, the Hilo Scale House will remain open from 7:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and will not be closing during the normal lunch period on Wednesday. All facilities will resume the regular schedule on Friday, November 24.

DRUGS, NOT ALCOHOL, ARE CAUSING THE MOST HIGHWAY DEATHS on this island, according to Hawai‘i Police Department. As Thanksgiving approaches, HPD is teaming up with U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remind motorists that drug-impaired driving is dangerous and illegal. HPD recommends, "Before heading out to any holiday event, remember: If You Feel Different, You Drive Different."
    “People are familiar with the phrase ‘don’t drink and drive,’ however, they are less familiar with the impacts of driving impaired by prescription or illegal drugs,” said Torey Keltner, Program Manager for Hawai‘i Police Department’s Traffic Services Section.
    The HPD statement said, "Drivers need to understand that using some cold medications or over-the-counter sleep aids can impair your driving, which may lead to you being arrested for a DUI. Medications have directions on how to properly use them and people should follow them closely."
    “We want our Big Island community members to stay safe on the roads during the Thanksgiving holiday,” added Keltner. “Driving impaired due to drugs is deadly and illegal, and no one should ever take that risk.”
    The HPD statement said "Unfortunately, this year there have been 33 traffic fatalities on Hawai‘i Island roads, with impairment a factor in 14, or 42 percent, of those deaths." Six of the fatalities were due
to drugs only, an additional six deaths were due to a combination of drugs and alcohol, and two deaths were caused by alcohol only. However, toxicology reports are still pending on the other 19 fatalities and the percentage of fatalities due to impairment is expected to increase.
    In 2021 there were 26 traffic fatalities on Hawai‘i Island roads. Impairment was a factor in 21 of the 26 fatalities, with drugs playing a role in 20 of the 21 impaired deaths.
    Driving under the influence of a drug played a similar role in 2020 traffic fatalities. Of the 15 traffic deaths in 2020, impairment was a factor in 12 people dying, with drugs playing a role in nine of the 12 impaired traffic fatalities.
    “With so many safe driving options available, there’s no excuse to drive impaired this holiday season,” said Keltner. “We are asking our community members to please make good decisions during the upcoming holidays and commit to sober driving.”
    Hawai‘i Police Department "will be out in force and on the lookout for impaired drivers throughout the holiday season.If you’re planning to head out to the bar or parties during the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you plan for a safe ride home."
HPD promises to be out in full force to catch
impaired drivers over Thanksgiving weekend.
HPD photo
    HPD also offered some Safe Driving Tips:
● If you plan on going to a party or event, plan ahead and designate a sober driver or use public transportation or a ride-sharing service. Someone who is affected by drugs or alcohol shouldn’t be making decisions about driving; that’s why having a plan is key.
● If you have used an impairing substance, do not drive. Passengers should never ride with an impaired driver. If you think a driver may be impaired, do not get in the car.
● If you see a friend who is about to drive while impaired by drugs, take the keys away and arrange to get them home safely. Don’t worry about offending someone — they’ll thank you later.
● If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact the police department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311.

7,500 printed, 5,000 in the mail